HEIDI FRANZ GOES TO EUROPE

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Heidi in the QOM Jersey after Stage 2 of Tour de l’Ardeche

 

Tête de la Course athlete Heidi Franz made a couple of trips across the pond this season racing with both the U.S. National Team and her domestic team, Rally Cycling. There were some ups and downs (because….bike racing) but at the end of it all she proved (once again) that she was up for the challenge and ready for more. Here is her report:

 

Attempting to summarize my experiences racing in Europe over the last couple months is a pretty daunting task. In a way, it felt like a season’s worth of lessons and experience gained in just a month and a half of racing, and I can say that I’m a different, better, and more confident bike racer for it. I know that I’m lucky in being able to say that – racing in Europe for the first time is not easy, nor is it everyone’s favorite part of the year. My two trips there this year had quite a progression in the physical, technical, and emotional challenges that I took on. Nervousness to confidence, excitement to turmoil, and from feeling strong to just barely running on fumes. Getting both my legs and my mind to cooperate was extremely difficult, but proved not impossible.

 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned that there are a few different ways to approach your “firsts” in bike racing. The biggest lesson: it’s risky to focus on them to begin with. Something being your first time can become an excuse for not giving your best effort. There have been times when I’ve caught myself thinking “well, this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, it’s okay if I just sit back here and let whatever happens, happen.” There is a time and place for that mentality, especially if you’re coming back from an injury or other setback. However, there’s danger if that mindset becomes a habit – you may never see the pointy end of a bike race, and most importantly, it doesn’t help your team. There comes a point when firsts don’t really matter anymore. I’ve learned that no matter what, whether it’s your first bike race or 10,000th, there is always something to learn or improve on when you put yourself in the driver’s seat and get out of your comfort zone.

 

Racing outside of North America for the first time was a big step, and a really big test for me – definitely outside my comfort zone. Talking to anyone about the upcoming trip came with versions of the same response – “it’s rough and tough out there”, “be prepared to get your teeth kicked in”, “it’s ‘real bike racing’, “the roads are half the size”, “there are roundabouts and road medians for days”, “the cobbles are legit”, and “the Europeans will smack you”.

 

All of those things are true.

 

Mentally preparing for the trip was a big part of the challenge. After all, I was bit of a gamble. The same people would say “you’ll be fine” or “you might feel out-gassed”, and I had to decide for myself how I would approach the challenge. So, I decided to treat it as if I were relearning how to bike race. I’d prepare myself in the best way I could, control what I could control up to the start line, but during the race I’d need to be willing to adapt on the fly and throw out any expectations of how I thought the next few hours should go. It reminded me of another memorable first that I checked off just over a year ago. The Redlands Bicycle Classic in 2017 was my first stage race, and my first-time racing in an American pro field. Wearing the colors of the Amy D Foundation, riders that I had only read about and looked up to from afar became my competitors. I was in awe of people like Kirsti Lay, Amber Neben, Ruth Winder, Katie Hall…women I never imagined being in the same race with, let alone on the same team a year later. To keep myself from getting overwhelmed by that, I had to leave my expectations of myself at the door and objectively focus on each day at a time. The racing was faster and harder than I’d ever experienced, and it took all my mental strength to stay focused every second. As a result, I learned how to be adaptable, to trust my instinct, and fight hard as hell. Europe was the best place to put those lessons to test- in addition to withholding my total Euro bike racer fan-girling.

 

That didn’t last too long.

 

I could barely hold my shit together when Sanne Cant, the women’s Cyclocross World Champion, lined up behind me for the BeNe Ladies Tour prologue. And when I held Marianne Vos’ wheel through several cobble sectors on an epic Stage 1, I nearly peed in my chamois. But then “HEIDI MOVE UP” went through my head and that was the end of the fan-girling. If I wasn’t moving up, I was going backwards, and I needed every second of focus I had to get through the day. One lapse could mean my wheel succumbing to the infamous Belgian “death crack”, or accidentally steering off course into a cornfield, or someone’s cow pasture.

 

“Middle!”

 

“Small!”

 

“Auto!”

 

“AAHHH!”

 

Those were just a few important things to keep your ears open for.  

 

At each finish, my mind was sore as if I’d just taken a five-hour SAT test. But I didn’t want to take a backseat to the racing. Personally, I knew that if I could engage in the racing here in the throws in Belgium, I could do it again elsewhere. And as for the team, we needed to prove that we belonged in this field. No one was going to take a backseat if they could help it.

 

We had proven at BeNe that as a team we were ready to show up and be competitive. Then, in London, at the Women’s World Tour RideLondon Classique, we put that on display to another 20,000 people or so in front of Queen Elizabeth’s house. It was alright I guess, just a little bit loud. In the last kilometer of the race, a slap on my leg from winner Kirsten Wild confirmed that we’d made an impression as I brought Emma up to the tail of the Wiggle-High5 leadout train. And I knew for myself that I wasn’t brought to Europe just to get shelled by the big girls at first sight. A test in the throws of Belgium and another with the world’s best in London, and I had relearned to race my bike. I had the tools to adapt, focus, and be present in the European field, and I really couldn’t wait to go back.  

 

Well, to my surprise I got to go back, all of about three weeks later. If I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone enough with the first trip, this second trip would make sure of that and then some. When you get used to racing at a consistent level of difficulty, you can learn how to cope with small mistakes or moments of weakness without compromising a whole week’s worth of racing. In North America, you can be just “ok” at getting bottles from the car without too many consequences. The roads are wider, so weaving your way back up the 10-car-deep caravan to feed your teammates isn’t such a daunting task. But when you step up to that bigger stage, the cracks that are your insecurities or weaknesses become more visible and harder to fill in. Fetching those bottles might be the most important thing you do in the race that day, and if you can’t do it successfully, even the chance of a team result can disappear. I knew that at The Boels Ladies Tour and Tour de l’Ardeche, I’d be pushed physically beyond my limit and cracks were going to show, gaps in fitness that I wasn’t going to be able to fill. If fetching bottles from the team car was the most important thing I could do all week, then so be it. Let’s just say that I got a lot of practice fetching bottles at those races. But getting to do that when I’m wearing the colors of the US National Team is a pretty cool thing, even when it’s stage five of a WorldTour stage race in Holland and I’ve chased my way back to the peloton four times already. I’d never suffered on a bike so much before (definitely jinxed myself there) and yet, I’d look down at the jersey I was wearing and keep going. Over here, there were no crits to break up the chain of 80+ mile days we’d had in a row, and my mind always had to be turned on.  Always alert, always focused- except for those couple hours on stage 3 when the peloton was happy to let one rider stay five minutes up the road. We were going so slow that even Annemiek Van Vleuten, leading the race, stopped behind the peloton for a pee break. That was a nice and welcomed exception, but it was short lived – the last 18 miles of the same stage wouldn’t come close to the speed of any crit I’d ever raced in my life. Annemiek even said to one of her teammates, “I’m scared, move me up.”

 

Heidi Franz (USA) comes back for bottles at Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche 2018 - Stage 4, a 116.3km road race from Chateauneuf de Gadagne to Mont Serein, France on September 15, 2018. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

Heidi Franz (USA) comes back for bottles at Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche 2018 – Stage 4, a 116.3km road race from Chateauneuf de Gadagne to Mont Serein, France. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

 

After spending a few great weeks with the U.S. team, I was back in orange to put together everything I’d learned over the season into one last race, The Tour de l’Ardèche. Oh, but Ardeche. It really deserves its own separate race report but I’ll try to give it justice here. In short: to cope with my outstandingly high fatigue level, the brutality of climbing as high as Mt. Rainier over 2.5 times, I ate my body weight in cheese, baguettes, mint tabbouleh, salami slices, and French pastries for six days. A couple of whole pizzas, a very special praline brioche, and frites got lost in there too. In proper form, it was a race of incredible highs and absolute lowest of lows. One of my proudest days on the bike was followed up with one of the most brutal. While wearing my first UCI classification leader’s jersey (QOM) in a bike race, I nearly stopped pedaling on the side of a hill to cry and think about what I was doing there. The previous two hours had felt like a whole week, and I still had two more hours to go. I had literally and figuratively run out of gears, and it was only day two. When I crossed the finish line next to my teammate I was cracked open and terrified of the four days ahead. Meanwhile, my teammate Sara Poidevin (aka Robot T-1000) was having the most impressive race of her season, and she would need absolutely every bullet that the remaining four of us had left to help her. To stay in the game I had to be really careful to use my energy in a moment when it was most needed, otherwise I’d disappear fast. Sure enough, I made it through the next day and the next. I was never not on the brink of total self-destruction, but I had learned when to use my one or two bullets every day, and when to let the race go up the road. Then, I could take a second to look around at where I was, and remember how lucky I was to be there, eating glorious French goat cheese and staring at castle ruins with 170 other bike racers.

 

All year, with each race I started, I did something for the first time. Had I been without my mentors, coach, family, partner, team, and community, I wouldn’t have had the strength to welcome the discomfort of learning. This year was not about my results as an individual but about how I learned to handle pressure, find and push limits, and stand up for myself too. It’s not going to get easier (you just get faster, right?), but at least I can breathe knowing I don’t have to prove myself capable of a challenge.

 

Thanks for reading, it’s been an incredible year. Here’s to an even better one in 2019.

2018 REDMOND DERBY DAYS CRITERIUM

 

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Pre-registration will be open until 10pm PST on Thursday, July 12. To register go here:

2018 Derby Days Registration with USA Cycling

HEIDI FRANZ – U.S. PRO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS REPORT

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Heidi Franz – on the sharp end of Sunday’s road race – photo by John Hollingsworth

Tête de la Course athlete Heidi Franz had one hell of a race at U.S. Pro last weekend. For those of you who didn’t see the live stream of the road race, Heidi was off the front in a break from lap 4 to lap 9 and most of lap 9 she was solo after dropping her breakaway companions. She was caught with less than 5 km to go.

However, her first time at U.S. Pro Championships did not start out “as planned” due to a hell day of travel involving delayed flights, cancelled flights and lost baggage. She managed to make some lemonade though. Here is her report:

When I got to Knoxville and was preparing for the road race on Sunday, I was thinking “Oh man, I should definitely write up some kind of report for Nationals. It’ll be easy, no problem.” And then Sunday happened and my task became so much harder. Not that it was going to be easy to begin with. After all, it’s a National Championship, and nothing about it is, or should be, easy.

 

This was my first trip to Pro Road Nationals, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this race is just different. Obviously I don’t have multiple years to back up that statement but even as a newbie it became very clear, very fast, that this event was unlike any kind of challenge I had lined up for. Being so coveted, the build-up is enormous and it absolutely requires that your best fall right in line with that race, that day. There’s no prize money, but there’s a jersey, and the pride of being the owner of that jersey for a whole year in the eye of the cycling world. It’s a big freakin’ deal.

 

For some people, this is a race that always escapes them. The game doesn’t play out in their favor in the first few laps and suddenly the race is up the road. For others, they might get one step closer, year after year, and the one thing that turns their race around can be such a seemingly small detail. Having one extra bottle of water, one less moment of hesitation, one more teammate, or one simple check back at who’s behind you. Depending on who’s there, that look can either mentally extinguish your fight, or keep you going. More on that later. All in all, the whole experience is fascinating to be around and to be a part of, racing against some of the world’s absolute best for the first time.

 

For me, Nationals resembled something like a coming of age. That sounds ridiculously cliché and part of me cringes writing that out, but that’s the best way I can describe it. All week, there were many emotional hoops and challenges to jump through, whether I felt ready for them or not. For example, when I drove from Nashville to Knoxville the day before the time trial without any of my bags it forced me to say “f$%* it”, drink the beer[s] that my director gave me, and make the most out of the [Joker] cards I was dealt. I didn’t have a whole lot to lose in those 32 minutes, and I quickly figured out how it feels to race a ProNats Time Trial after not riding a bike for two days. Turns out it really sucks, and it wasn’t a surprise that I didn’t do well. But it drove me to take each following day as its own isolated challenge. It made no sense to stay awake all night wondering, what if my bags hadn’t gotten lost? Eh, who knows. What if I had taken one more caffeine gel 20 minutes earlier? Eh, who knows. What if it had been 80% humidity instead of 99%? Those seemingly small details I was talking about- you can’t really control 95% of them. What you do with that other 5% is what can make something worthwhile. (Sure, go ahead and put that on a motivational fitness ad.)

 

So it’s Crit Day. Need to make lemonade out of that 5%. Warmed up on the trainer before the start, went to the bathroom approximately seven times, lowered my tire pressure to 68psi because it was raining (for real!), put that weird smelling stuff on Oakleys that sheds water, and went over the race plan in my head. Again. And…again. Probably too many times, because if you stick to the plan literally and don’t start reacting to what’s happening right in front of you, pretty soon you’ll finish the race with your teammate in 2nd.

 

Then, you’ll be asking yourself (1) why do I still have energy and where should I have spent it and (2) Did I just forget how to race my bike for a second there?

 

Cool, another lesson learned. Communicate with your teammates, read the race in front of you and not the one in your ears, and use the energy that you have!! What better place to relearn that than the US Pro National Championships? [Insert sarcastic *eyebrow raise* here.] I had fun reflecting on that, sitting in my soaking wet chamois while I ate my dinner in the team van. Back at the motel, Summer, Emma and I went swimming in our cheeky motel pool to wash off the day. Debrief done, we’d better make tomorrow count. Everyone else will be doing the same thing.

 

You may have seen a picture at the end of the road race, where Emma is putting her hand on my shoulder after a hug while I’m bursting into tears. I’m a pretty emotional person but there are only two times when I’ve finished a race and cried. The first time was when I felt that I’d truly let down my teammates and disappointed myself in the process. Here it was because for the first time I honestly believed that my teammates and I had done everything that we possibly could have done to get ourselves the National Championship. It felt different than any race I had ever finished before. Everyone rode out of their skin and with full confidence that we could pull it off. I wasn’t crying because I was sad that my breakaway adventure ended with 2.5 miles left in the race or even that Emma had finished 3rd. We took advantage of every minute, every move that we could control and left nothing else in the tank, and it was something to be incredibly proud of. Personally, I got to have the best ride I have ever had, knowing 100% that I was lucky to be racing for such a worthy teammate in Emma. Feeling truly drained and exhausted in the best possible way, I could only just hug her and be proud of the effort.

 

“Just over this last one Heidi, as hard as you can. Over the top. Keep going. This is it.”

 

I didn’t have to think about what regrets or stresses I’d had from the days before, and I didn’t have to look back at who was behind me until the last second, because I already knew.

 

After the time trial on Thursday, my teammate and friend Brad Huff told me that over the next two days, I’d surprise myself.

 

He couldn’t have been more right.

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This is what it looks like to give 100% – photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

Why Do We Race? Because. It’s. Really. Damn. Fun.

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Bike racing in Middle Earth.

 

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Fuel to keep us going. Top fuel too, none of that 87 octane stuff.

 

 

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Hidden Heroes: the staff who are up at all hours making our job easier.

 

Tête de la Course Cycling athlete Heidi Franz was back in California this past week – racing at the Chico Stage Race and then taking part in another training camp as the #RallyCats honed their preparation for the big goals of 2018. She filed this report on her way back to Seattle:

 

I’m writing this little race report a bit differently this time, and a bit late from Chico, California while we finish up a post-race team camp. The legs…they are tired! If you followed along with the race on social media you probably saw some pretty pictures of a few very epic stage wins by the Rally Cats, three to be exact. In short, we held the race lead with Summer Moak for two stages, lost it in the time trial, and fired off everything we had to make up 15 seconds for Sara Bergen in the criterium. It was an all-in, 100% team effort with everyone shelling themselves for the cause. Though we couldn’t make up the time to take the overall, we still had teammates Sara Bergen and Summer Moak take 2nd and 3rd in the general classification, respectively. Shamelessly borrowing these stats from Rally Cycling’s report, I’ll brag that between the seven of us racing, we accounted for 16 top-ten finishes and eight podiums. All said and done, it was a pretty successful weekend and the North American women’s peloton knows that the Rally Cats have shown up strong and stoked to take on the year. Races like this and Valley of the Sun are just the appetizers for the main course of the season to come.

 

This past week of racing and camp was all-hands-on-deck to run the first big team showing of the season. With usual suspects Zach, Zane, and Kelly, we also had Ina Yoko-Teutenberg joining the Rally Cycling crew as a new women’s director for a few races this year. We also had our team nutritionist, Dana Lis, come and work with each of us to figure out what in the world we should be eating for the four days of racing and beyond. Her expertise, “science in spandex” fueling tricks, and motherly encouragement basically kept us upright and on our bikes.

 

For those of you who don’t know of Ina, her palmarès include over 200 wins in her 12-year career and two trips to the Olympics. I really could – and should – go on and on, about how amazing she is, but to keep this report semi-short, you just need to know that we are incredibly lucky to have her with us. And that she is my new favorite German.

 

I had never been to Chico before, and what I didn’t expect was the feeling that I was riding on some European country roads (and yes, I have ridden a bike on European country roads). Flat farm land and pastures everywhere brought all kinds of wind conditions and some potential Strade Bianche-like weather, especially with the eight miles of gravel we’d race during Stage 2. Imagine that.

 

Throughout the race and especially in the last couple of days of this team camp, Ina absolutely schooled us (simultaneously destroyed and educated us) on how to work with cross, head, and tail winds, and how to improve our sprinting- her specialty. After a debrief of some drills, she would attack and out-sprint us as naturally as breathing. I can’t wait to keep learning from her.

 

With the race plus a team camp, fueling and recovery became super important for us. While putting out so much work over 10 days, staying healthy can be a big challenge if you don’t have a system figured out, and that’s exactly what Dana was brought in to help us with. If we’re not on bikes, we’re either eating, sleeping, stretching, making more food, vegged out reading a book, or just watching The West Wing mindlessly if you were like me this week. During this race I very quickly realized that I would probably spend more time making and eating food than actually racing my bike. I’m also starting to think that something’s wrong with me because I can’t jump on the nap train, and I’ll stay up past 10pm- mostly because I just won’t be able to fall asleep any earlier.  Solution: Just pedal harder?  I suppose…..

 

At this point in my life, every day that I sit on a bike I learn something new, so I’ll finish with a lesson I learned this week.

 

It’s a big shocker: Mistakes!  They. Will. Happen.

 

And as the “greenest” and newest bike racer on the team, I will inevitably make a mistake every now and then. Chalk it up to inexperience, bad judgement, or just not being aware; at some point I might cost the team a result, cause a crash, or make my teammate’s jobs harder.

 

During the race, I made a silly mistake.

 

I’m lucky to have such genuinely good human beings for teammates who don’t hesitate to make it a learning opportunity for me, but also bring it to my attention in a way that benefits the team as a whole. As someone who habitually carries around my own backpack of pressure, any mistake that I make is followed by some self-deprecation. Being able to come away from that with a lighter backpack this week was a real testament to the people on this team and the respect in it.

 

Because why do we race in the first place? It’s just really damn fun. And it always should be.

Thorsten Askervold Race Report from Chico Stage Race

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The team rolling in the hills of Nor Cal during team camp

 

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What happens when your team mate gets a flat on the way back from the stage……..Team Work Of Course! Check out the video on @taskervold on IG. #squadgoals

 

Thorsten Askervold is a Tête de la Course Cycling coached U23 rider racing for the domestic elite Team California. Along with Logan Owen and Heidi Franz, Thorsten will be posting about life on the road racing bikes. Here is his first post from last weekend’s Chico Stage Race. Enjoy.

The Chico Stage Race was the first race for “Team California” and I. If you have not heard of the team already it’s based out of Northern California hence the name. We are a development team racing under the guidance of AJ Kennedy, Freddie Rodriguez and Kirk Carlsen. Our Main sponsors are Storck, FSA/Vision and Gu Energy Labs. 2018 is my 2nd year with the team although the team went through a huge transformation going into this season. A very cool thing about our team is the diversity of our team. We have 2 Mexican riders, a kiwi, a rider from Hong Kong and others scattered all over the US.

 

Going into the stage race I wasn’t sure how we were going to ride as a team since we’ve only ridden once together at team camp back in February. Day one was the thunder hill circuit race. Our team objective was to get my teammate Cooper and I in a winning position for the end. However near the end a break ended up getting away and we had Cooper in it and he sprinted for 5th. A good result, but we were hungry for more.

 

Going into the 2nd day I knew this was a perfect course for he and I. It was a 90 mile road race with a 4 mile gravel section and a small hill during and after it that we had to do 2 times. We had a plan going into the race and we stuck with it. I was really excited the way our team rode. We entered the gravel section as a team first on the last time through. I was feeling very optimistic with a couple teammates in front of me and Cooper right behind me. About halfway through the gravel Cooper had gotten a flat so it was up to me to finish it off. Patience was my enemy though and I decided to make an attack on the gravel hill (about 5-6 miles from the finish). I thought that this could succeed because I saw everyone was hurting and no teams were organized and I had good legs. However I ended up getting caught right before the next hill exiting the gravel section and that is when Team Rally decided to attack and that was the end of my race. It was the difference between me sitting in on the final little hill and making the front group. But my lesson was learned.

 

On the last day patience was our enemy again during the final stage (the crit). We made too many moves to be fresh at the end. But with about 2 Laps to go we had Gera up in a break, but the gap closing very quickly as Team Elevate took control of the race. 1 lap to go I had Cooper in front of me but he got moved off his line and lost some speed which left it up to just me. I had to gain a couple more positions to be where I wanted and got there and then the sprinting started –  going into the final corner we caught the breakaway. We were going a lot faster then the guys we caught and they were all spread out through the corner and I got caught behind them as I took the outside line when I should have gone to the inside – missing out on a potentially very good result.

 

This was our first race as a team and we made mistakes. But our team has a lot of potential and we learned from those mistakes. Main lesson being patience and how big of a difference it makes in this sport.

 

Next race for our team is Tour of Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Logan Owen – GP Larciano

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Yeah, that was a rough one….

Everyone was talking about the Strada Bianche from this past weekend – as they should. That was one hell of a bike race.

 

There was another bike race in Italy last weekend as well – the GP Larciano – held the day after Strada. This is a little late in appearing due to some travel delays following the race but here is Logan Owen’s report from Larciano:

On Sunday we had GP Larciano on tap. Many of the riders that raced an epic Strada Bianche were racing Larciano because it was really close to the finish of Strada.

 

As we rolled up to the start of the race it reminded me of many of the U23 Italian races I had taken part in in the past. From the presentation stage to the announcer – everything was very similar to my last few years of racing in Italy.

 

The plan for the day was for our climbers Dani Moreno, Daniel Martinez and Julian Cardona to wait for the 4th of 4 times up the 11km climb to follow moves or attack themselves. The team also gave me the green light to try and make it over the climb and be there for the sprint. After the 2nd time over the climb I realized I wasn’t going to have the legs and did everything I could to help all the climbers by positioning them into the climb. 

 

Martinez ended up finishing 25th. He was one of the strongest on the climb and was able to split it to just 8 riders but everyone looked at each other and a few other groups were able to get back on. I ended up being dropped the 3rd time up but kept smashing on with a big groupetto so we could finish the race. We ended up finishing 10 minutes behind the winner, Matej Mahoric. I can say that it was a rough one.

 

I am now in Girona for a few days with some of the guys for a mini-camp before I head back to Belgium.

 

I hope everyone enjoyed reading – thanks!

 

 

Thanks to Logan for the report. And – congratulations to his wife Chloe who absolutely smashed it at track worlds last week!

Logan Owen Reports from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

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The Pink Armada with Logan sitting second wheel

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Cobbles!

The 2018 Spring Classics season has finally arrived!

The opening events of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne took place this past weekend in Belgium and Tête de la Course Cycling athlete Logan Owen was there racing. Logan was originally supposed to make his European racing debut with his EF Education First team at KBK on Sunday but that changed when he was told last Tuesday that he would be racing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad instead.  Historically Omloop HNB has been harder then KBK, That definitely would be the case this year as it would cover the same roads and cobbled climbs of the old Tour of Flanders in the closing kilometers.

As his coach I was a little nervous. Logan was just getting over a cold and missed a scheduled session behind the motor to help get him back to race speed after the racing break he had following Tour Down Under. Now he was racing one day earlier in a harder race. Logan took it all in stride though and was pretty psyched to get a shot at Omloop HNB.

Below is his race report filed just after the race. Enjoy.

 

On Saturday I raced my first Spring Classic as a pro and probably my biggest race to date. I was a little nervous as to how hard the race would be since I’ve heard from many former pros that the classics are always full gas from start to finish.

 

Saturday morning we all got on the bus and prepared for war.

 

We played some old school rock to get pumped and ready for the race as a lot of the guys on the team were a bit older than me (so – a lot of the same music you heard in my car traveling with me to all of those races as a junior? 😉 – Joe)

 

As we walked off the bus to head to the sign-in in the center of the Ghent Velodrome there were tons of fans asking for autographs and pictures. In between trying to grab my bike and getting to the sign-in I had to sign around 30 autographs which was something I haven’t had to do on a large scale like this. I was blown away by how many fans showed up and how big the whole race seemed. After sign-in we did our final radio checks and headed to the start.

 

The temperature was just above freezing and everyone was completely bundled up. My job for the race was to make sure Sep and the other couple of guys going for the finish were taken care of all day and to make sure they were in the front at kilometer 115. If I made it past that I was to position them for the bottom of the Kokerelle, which was a new climb to the race and where fireworks were expected to go off.

 

Everything went according to plan and I was able to help put them in the front for both of those sections. It wasn’t easy as I spent a lot of energy closing gaps and keeping Sep out of the wind earlier in the race.

 

I basically treated those two points as my finish line and gave everything to make sure we were in the front for the key points in the race. After that I held on to the back of the bunch for a couple more kilometers before getting dropped with a big group.

 

Before the race started I told myself that no matter what I was going to finish the race. Many guys in the group that I was in got in their respective vans and team cars but I slugged on with 7 other guys to the finish. Although I finished they put me down as a DNF for some reason even though I wasn’t outside time cut but I was able to complete all the goals the team and I set out for myself before the race.

 

Sep really rewarded all of our hard work with a podium finish.

 

For my first classic in the World Tour I couldn’t have asked for a much better start.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-Logan

 

 

Logan races again next week at the GP Industria & Artigianato in Larciano, Italy.

You Are Part of the Problem

shortcut

Really? You’re the “shortcut”? Guess what? There are no shortcuts. You are however part of the problem. The problem of telling people that there are shortcuts in the first place.

 

That image of “Shortcut to fast” flashed up on the heading of the website of a prominent coaching company that I went to today.

I want to state that I have a lot of respect for the individuals behind this company and have attended seminars that they have presented. Just because I respect someone though doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say. And it doesn’t mean that I am going to buy what they are trying to sell. And it doesn’t mean that I am not going to call them out on something that, well, quite honestly pissed me off.

I just couldn’t move beyond this statement of “shortcut to fast”. I couldn’t move beyond it and I couldn’t let it go. Because it’s bullshit.

There are no shortcuts.

Let me repeat that.

THERE ARE NO FUCKING SHORTCUTS.

There are no “hacks”, there are no “magic pills” or “seven minute wonder workouts” and there sure as hell are no “shortcuts”.

There is however the understanding that real achievement requires effort, it requires hard work, it requires accepting hard as normal, it requires attention to detail.

But most people don’t want to hear those things. They want to hear that there are “shortcuts”.

And that ultimately is the problem.

And if you are trying to sell “shortcuts” then you are part of the problem too.

“Fitness is strength and conditioning, but also strength of character. Cheating and shortcuts produce visible insecurity. Genuine accomplishment looks and feels different. It cannot be faked.” – Mark Twight

“It’s a fucking bike race so we’re bringing it” – Heidi Franz reports from VOS

"...it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it."   - photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

“…it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it.” – photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

 

Recovery Starts Immediately - so EAT UP!  -photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

Recovery Starts Immediately – so EAT UP!
-photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

Bike Racing is Hard....

Bike Racing is Hard….

Tête de la Course athlete Heidi Franz opened her 2018 race account in Arizona this past weekend at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Here is her race report:

 

Valley of the Sun 2018 Race Report

For the first time, I wasn’t starting my road season with a of couple relaxed Collegiate road weekends with friends, or the classic Tour De Dung road races out in Sequim, WA. In the words of Rally Sport Director Zach Bell, we were now “100% Pro”, through and through, and that’s just how this season would start.


Sara Bergen, Gillian Ellsay, Summer Moak and I were sent to The Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Three of us had never done it before, just as three of us had never raced together as teammates. The purpose was to set a precedent for the rest of the season in terms of communication, coming up with a plan, and sticking to it. Using the weekend to get our race legs back on and get back into the road mindset allowed us to ease into the season with low pressure. But of course, when we line up at the start to race, it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it.

Stage one is a time trial, basically a flat 14 mile out-and-back. We set warm-up camp in our sweet VIP parking near some desert brush and Porta-Johns, and began the day. Gillian would go off first, Sara second, myself third, and Summer fourth. As the Phoenix/Scottsdale resident, Summer knew this race well. There was little wind to speak of, so it made for a less than complicated effort.


There were reports of Sara Bergen rocket-shipping herself around the course, absolutely steamrolling the competition and landing securely in 2nd, 13 seconds behind Leah Thomas. I…went a little slower, but that’s fine. Always critical at first, I had to remember that it was my third TT ever on an actual TT bike. So, I was content . Summer put down an absolutely amazing personal best time, putting her in 5th. Gillian put out a super strong showing in 10th. With me in 13th, the whole team was starting in the top 15 in GC. We could start to scheme our cards for the road race the next day.

Tibco missed out on the top 6 in the TT, so we expected a fireworks show from them to get something up the road. What we didn’t really expect (or count) was that 10 women would all go on the attack from that team. 10!!! We had planned for Gillian and I to cover moves early on that could be dangerous, but that meant following anything that had UHC and Tibco in it. Needless to say, we were busy! No breaks were sticking, and the pace was incredibly high. With one men’s field passing us left and right (literally) and our peloton catching some straggling men on the last lap, the finish was decided in a decent manner of chaos. We were setting up for a bunch sprint, and Sara and Summer were to follow wheels and help each other position in the last km. If Gillian and I had anything left, we would try to help. Little did we know, those weren’t just dudes up the road, but a break from our peloton. Lauren Hall ended up taking the win for UHC and Allison Jackson in 2nd for Tibco. Far enough down on GC, they didn’t change the top 15 very much. Sara was still solidly in 2nd. So, how to make up 13 seconds in a criterium….? Hmmm.

Spitting fire and getting Sara in a break was the goal for the crit. If not, set up Summer for the bunch sprint. The course was fast, 8 corners. Being the first crit of the season, I was pretty nervous, but just focusing on the plan would keep me from overthinking anything. The first half was great. We were riding safe, always towards the front and choosing our responses carefully, letting Tibco flyers go up the road if they wanted just to come back a couple laps later. We learned to save our matches for the really dangerous moves. Unfortunately, a serious crash 15 minutes in with a young 2020 rider neutralized the race for about 15 minutes. Starting us with 25 minutes to go, there was little time to get going. Each of us tried to move up and reshuffle the field with attacks and get Sara in position to take off. However, she was too marked to get away. Suddenly 4 then 2 laps to go, it was a rush to move Summer as far up as we could. Sara was in a decent spot and there was little more Gillian and I could do with such little time.
Stopping the clock at 35 minutes… Kendall Ryan took the win for Tibco in the sprint.

Overall, we came away feeling good. We raced well as a team for the first time, communicated well and knew when and where we needed it better. We raced hard and held our own, being a small squad of four against the powers-in-numbers. With a 2nd, top 15 for everyone, and Best Young Rider, we are happy and ready to do it again.

All our best goes to Zoe Ta-Perez’s recovery! Glad to hear she will be okay.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

– Heidi

STRENGTH TO ENDURE WORKSHOP AT THE SECT SLC

TDLCCYCLING-SECT

 

Later this month I will be traveling to Salt Lake City to give a one day seminar on supplemental strength work for the endurance athlete at The Sect. Paul Roberts from The Sect will be assisting. We will cover theory, methods, practical applications and technique. The main focus will be on supplemental strength for cycling but many of the concepts are transferable to other endurance sports.

 

The Strength to Endure Seminar will take place on Saturday, February 17 and begin at 10 am. Registration is $100 for members of The Sect and $125 for non-members. Attendance is limited to 20 people and spots are already filling up so if you are interested I highly recommend you act fast. Email Paul Roberts at Paul@thesectfitness.com to get registered. If you have questions you can also email me at Joe@tdlccycling.com .